Vanderbilt Cocktail

First, just a reminder that Sunday, October 31st, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Vanderbilt Cocktail
3 Dashes Syrup. (1 scant teaspoon Small Hand Food Gum Syrup)
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters. (2 dash Angostura Bitters)
1/4 Cherry Brandy. (1/2 oz Cherry Heering)
3/4 Brandy. (1 1/2 oz Congnac Grande Champagne Dudognon Reserve)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

The source for this Savoy Cocktail was likely Robert Vermiere’s 1922 “Cocktails: How to Mix Them”. He notes, “This drink was first made at the Kursaal in Ostend during a visit of Colonel Cornelius Vanderbilt, the American Millionaire, who was drowned on the Lusitania during the war.”

I have to admit I was Very tempted to use Kirsch, this cocktail includes both syrup and “Cherry Brandy”. I resisted and instead used this rather nice Cognac, in recognition that it is, after all, a cocktail named after one of the most well known and wealthy families of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

However, it wasn’t one of the Cornelius Vanderbilts which perished on the Lusitania, but Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt.

From the Wikipedia article about his life:

“Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I (October 20, 1877–May 7, 1915) was a wealthy sportsman and a member of the famous Vanderbilt family of philanthropists. He died on the RMS Lusitania.”

“Kursaal in Ostend” (or Oostend) probably refers to the rather well known Belgian Casino in that city.

Kursaal Casino

Before World War II, Ostend was a highly frequented gambling resort for the upper-class British citizens, especially since Queen Victoria prohibited gambling in the ´20s. The gambling law was applied throughout the entire Kingdom, making it impossible for the British people to enjoy gambling in England or in any colonial territory serving under Union Jack. However, the Queen’s law never applied to Belgium, something that made the Kursaal Casino a very popular destination for the U.K. gamblers during the roaring twenties.

Sounds like just the sort of place you would find a wealthy sportsman like Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.